CTME doing it differently
CTME doing it differently
FEATURE – Saturday saw hundreds of people turning up at Ratanga Junction to support a call from the Touwsriver Islamic Society to help them raise funds for a much needed mosque in the rural town which has a growing Muslim population. The turnout was a triumph for the organisers who very effectively rallied the community in a campaign that drew strongly on community and social media.
Media partner, Cape Town Muslim Events (CTME), was a key part of the success and according to head honcho Shamiel Slamang, they made great strides over the last 2 – 3 years in using new age media tools to draw the interest of Muslims to community events – from fundraisers to conferences and Islamic classes.
“CTME came about as I watched how people sent out emails, SMES, Facebook and Twitter. I found that there was no central place that people could go to find out what was going on in the community. The Cape Town community is especially dynamic with so much happening on a daily basis – at mosques, madressas and community organisations.”
Slamang said while there were places promoting such events online, a central hub was missing and it is into this gap that CTME was born. “What we wanted was for event organisers to get on a central site to load your information so that people can get to know about it. It was a natural progression for people to use social networking in a more concentrated way.”
This approach helps them to promote events by using SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus in conjunction with a web presence. “Now slowly but surely BBM is coming in as a new medium. So if you integrate all these social mediums as one online tool, you have a strong campaign.”
However, this does not mean that people can only rely on a social media campaign to promote their events. Slamang hastened to say it was critical to use an intergrated approach that got the message out at multiple levels, including community media, radio, the mimbar, posters and pamphlet.
“The one thing social media is very good at is creating excitement about an event. However, it is not there to replace the other media. It is just one tool in the marketing mix. Social media is an awareness tool. It is fast, but you need both an inbound and outbound approach to be successfull and social media integrates the two well. But you cannot only rely on social media.
“Because it is a cheap environment for marketing, it is completely populated. There is a lot of communication going on. You can have 10 events taking place on one day in the social sphere.” This is why they urge clients to “think outside the box” and use other media since it helps to take people from simple awareness into a call to action.
The negative side to fast, cheap, online marketing on social media was that people often expect a bigger return on investment than can be delivered. “When we create an event onlin and you invite 8,000 people, the advertiser assumes those people will be coming. But it doesn’t work that way. The call for action lies in your creativity. The more innovative you are, the more your event stands out in a flooded market. So you really have to think about what will give you the edge.”
“Our vision is community empowerment through effective online communication. Most of the programs in our community are run by organisations working at grassroots level. They need a medium to get their message out to a broader audience. While they too have their own marketing tools, many don’t always have the budget for it,” Slamang explained.
“Many NPO’s don’t get goverment funding and have to raise funds on their own. Also, in the current economic climate, sponsors are also becoming more selective, so there is even less money.” It is here that CTME focuses its attention. “We seek to use our network to be a go-between for these organisations and the community that are linked into our various platforms.”
As a result, the cost of using this means is not as high for grassroots organisation as would be the case if they targetted the print medium. To increase its own brand, CTME this year deliberately sought out innovative events where it could become a media partner. This includes the Touwsriver Islamic Society’s fundraiser at the weekend, the launch of the DUAI’s Ilm Academy intensive tafsir course at the Islamia auditorium next weekend, the Muslim Students Association’s upcoming Strangers Comedy Tour in May, as well as the Iqra Learning Centre’s Riaad Moosa Charity Show on 26 May.
“We offer them an opportunity to use our network and in return we seek cross branding on their posters, flyers, radio or print so that people can also see us growing. These partnerships allow us to get into the cogs of the community and help with real empowerment. We operate on the principle that ‘your event is our event’ and we really want to extend this to as many organisations as possible.”
Another aspect of their network is not only promoting classes and conferences, but allowing the opportunity for interested persons to register and paying online for such events. “We actually facilitate the registration process for the organisation and that has been working very successfully alhamdulillah,” Slamang said.
But to stay afloat, CTME still has to make money. This it does in the form of sponsorships, partnerships and advertising. “At this stage, we have a small staff and we are thinking of expanding, insha Allah, because of our substantial growth, alhamdulilah. So when we promote an event, people can choose from different advertising packages.
“If you are running an event that is in line with our principles, we will promote it on our website at no charge. But if you require SMS, BBM, Facebook and Twitter, there is a small fee attached to that. This fee differs for NPO’s compared to businesses. But we are also fortunate to have some sponsors and partners on our website that ensure our sustainability.”
Meanwhile, Slamang said he was excited about the dynamism in the Cape Town Muslim community. “There are so many good things happening in our community. On a weekly basis we get calls from outside of our province and country who take note of such promotions. Many ask how they can have the same kind of programs in their areas.
“That is the power of the social media – its ability to reach a last audience in an instant with a small budget. We are really happy to be part of that. We just hope that it continues and more importantly, that our medium can be of benefit to our community. Because of the dynamic of our community we stick and work together to make this place better for everybody,” he concluded.
To find out more about CTME, visit them at www.ctme.org.za or call them at 021-696 6511 at their Lansdown offices. VOC (Munadia Karaan)